The Supreme Court is seen in Washington on Sept. 21, 2020. (Samira Bouaou/The Epoch Times)
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“I believe that on the federal vaccine mandates, the Supreme Court is going to land on a very limited position that just looks at the text of the federal statute to say this statute does not give the Biden administration the authority to do this,” Robert Henneke, executive director and general counsel at the Texas Public Policy Foundation, told EpochTV’s “American Thought Leaders” program.
Justices heard arguments last week for and against the mandates, one of which applies to every private business with 100 or more workers and the other of which covers every health care institution that receives Medicare or Medicaid funding.
Most justices seemed skeptical that the federal government has the power to impose such broad mandates, but others appeared to support the vaccination requirements.
Henneke, whose group brought a suit against the business mandate, said he sees a court that is comfortable, at some level, with mandates.
The Supreme Court has not ruled against any mandates and declined to intervene in multiple cases dealing with ones at the state level, including a mandate for New York health care workers.
“As I look at the court, as I look at where five justices may be—they accepted this case, challenging the Biden vaccine mandates, but they rejected other cases that have come from state vaccine mandates—and what that tells me is that the court may be thinking ‘this is not proper for the federal government but we’re not going to disturb the states in their power to regulate and adopt laws for public health and safety,’” Henneke said.
“So it could leave a situation where it’ll be a state-by-state decision. I think that would go too far. I still think that intrudes upon the personal autonomy and liberty of the individual. But it does also restore kind of the states as the policymakers of the nation and at least allows citizens to live and work in a state that may have policies and laws that best reflect their views.”
If justices decide to go that route, that could very well trigger certain migration patterns, whether it’s people moving to a state that has stricter policies or looser ones, Henneke predicted.
“I think this could be another example of where, for individuals that don’t want to have government into their personal business and in terms of health care choices, will move to those kinds of states where those policies best reflect their personal beliefs. And if you want to live in a state that has passed vaccine passports and vaccine mandates and heavy health care regulatory requirements, good for you—choose one of those states to live in. And we’ll kind of see how the American population sorts itself out,” he said.
The Supreme Court’s decision on the mandates could come any time but because it hasn’t acted yet, the private business mandate took effect on Monday. The health care vaccination requirements have a deadline of Jan. 27 as of now for the 25 states in which they have not been blocked by lower courts.
If the court doesn’t overrule the mandates, it could still block them temporarily and order the various cases back to lower courts. The third option? The court rules that the administration did have the power to mandate vaccination.
Henneke said that choice is the least likely, “but it’s certainly on the table, and really gives me concern for the future of this country.”